Thursday, 21 July 2011

Egypt's cabinet reshuffled

Egypt's Prime Minister Essam Sharaf announced a cabinet reshuffle and then had trouble with the details. The swearing-in was delayed because he had to go to hospital to test for low blood pressure. He asked incumbents to continue in their posts until the baton could be passed to those nominated to succeed. First one, then another of the Ministers Designate withdrew. The muddle demonstrates the lack of political experience and acuity of those currently governing Egypt, both in the military and among the civilians.

The ministers of justice, interior, electricity, international co-operation, education, petroleum, culture, environment, tourism, manpower (labour) and social solidarity have all kept their posts.

Key changes include the appointment of two deputy prime ministers, both in their mid-70s, which scarcely reflects the demographics of the new Egypt.

A veteran economist, Hazem Beblawi, has been appointed as the deputy prime minister for economic affairs as well as finance minister. He replaces Samir Radwan who was seen as being too closely associated with the old ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) and in favour of a major role in the economy.

Beblawi, who had worked for many years in the UN and other agencies, is a former chairman of the Export Development Bank. He has stated in early interviews his commitment to the market economy.

He was a founding member of the new, secular Egyptian Social Democratic Party, although has also been associated with the liberal Wafd party and has been critical of the old regime.

The Wafd has a number of other members in the cabinet, including the incumbent Minister of Tourism Mounir Fakhri Abdel-Nour and Minister of Information Osama Heikal.

For more news and expert analysis about Egypt, please see Egypt Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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